Traverse City Business News | Affordable daycare; Financial freedom: creating solutions that help families

Affordable daycare; Financial freedom: creating solutions that help families

As a member of the Michigan Women’s Commission, I am honored to work alongside a diverse group of women leaders from across our state to address the contemporary issues that Michigan women have identified as having the most impact. impact in their life. The issues boil down to questions of economic security, which apply to women, men and families.

Affordable daycare. The number one issue identified by Michigan women is access to affordable child care. For many families, child care costs more than the wages the parents earn during the hours when child care is needed. Generally, the partner who earns the least is the one who stays at home if the childcare costs exceed that parent’s salary. In most cases, it is the woman who earns the least, due to the gender pay gap – women in Michigan earn $0.73 for every dollar a man earns in the same job. Inevitably, the family decides that the lowest paid employee should be the one leaving the labor market. Unfortunately, it’s a woman in almost all cases.

Leaving the workforce puts a woman in a position of reduced financial freedom. She is now financially dependent on her partner, leaving her with fewer options if the relationship ends or becomes abusive. Her ability to advance in her career is hampered by hitting the pause button, so she will likely never reach the highest levels of advancement in her career. If she tries to re-enter the labor market, she is delayed by the time spent and often forced to settle for a position lower than the level she had reached before leaving the labor market.

Although it happens more often to women than to men, it is also a problem of family financial security. The high cost of child care means that families who choose to let one parent stay home to care for their children do not have dual incomes to support household expenses. In today’s world, it is difficult to support a family on one income and most families need more than one earner to make ends meet.

To reduce child care expenses for Michigan families, Governor Whitmer launched the Michigan Tri-Share Childcare program a year ago. Northern Michigan is one of the first pilot sites.

The Tri-Share Childcare program is a public/private partnership that shares the cost of child care equally between a participating employer, an employee, and the State of Michigan. United Way of Northwest Michigan serving Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Kalkaska, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford counties, was the first pilot site for this innovative program. Based on the success of the pilot, the program expanded to cover 59 counties in its first year and now includes 49 employers (small business to business), caring for 40 children. More northern Michigan employers are expected to participate. This is a great employment benefit that helps attract and retain talent.

Financial freedom. A related priority identified by Michigan women is financial freedom. Economic security is essential to family security. The Michigan Women’s Commission works to promote gender pay equality and better representation of women on corporate leadership teams and boards. The Michigan legislature has a history of not passing bills to address pay equity issues. Although these laws must be passed, there is little government leaders can do. Women should not wait for government assistance, but position themselves to the best of their abilities for financial freedom.

For example, women should pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). STEM fields are those where jobs are well paid and the demand for workers continues to increase. Families, encourage your daughters to pursue STEM education pathways, which begin in elementary school. Women, consider retraining programs to gain skills in technology fields. STEM careers offer better year-round income stability than tourism in Northern Michigan. STEM fields have often been dominated by men, but there are significant opportunities for women to grow in technology-related careers.

The next meeting of the Women’s Commission will be held in Traverse City in August. The commission was originally founded by TC’s own first lady, Helen Milliken. It’s great that we have the opportunity to host the next meeting and draw attention to our region’s success with Tri-Share and the efforts of local business leaders to create and grow an industry. technology in Traverse City, providing more STEM career opportunities. for the women (and men) of our region.

Katie Horvath is the Chief Marketing Officer of Aunalytics, a leading data platform company that provides insights as a service. Prior to Aunalytics, she served as CEO of Naveego where she was the only female CEO of a big data company in North America until 2021 when the company was acquired.

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